"One property above all makes living things seem almost miraculously different from nonliving matter: they create and maintain order in a universe that is tending always toward greater disorder. To create this order, the cells in a living organism must carry out a never-ending stream of chemical reactions. Nonliving things left to themselves eventually become disordered: buildings crumble and dead organisms decay. Living cells, by contrast, not only maintain, but actually generate, order at every level.
The universal tendency of things to become disordered is expressed in the fundamental law of physics, the second law of thermodynamics. This law states that in the universe, or in any isolated system, the degree of disorder can only increase. For the same reason, one’s living space will become increasingly disordered without an intentional effort to keep it organized. Movement toward disorder is a spontaneous process, requiring periodic effort to reverse it.”
- Essential Cell Biology (2009)